Customer communication in online retail logistics

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Logistics Customer communication in online retail logistics

Published on 01.03.2022 by Markus Peter, lecturer in online retail and online retail logistics at various universities of applied sciences

International providers dominate the online market and provide customers with a service that always puts them first. As a result, habits are changing, with consumers always expecting full control over their orders at all times.

Communication in shipping logistics is an important part of the customer experience in online shops. However, there is still a lot online retailers need to do in this regard: tracking is often only standardized and impersonal, even though the consumer is the most important player at this point.

The right message at the right time

Online shoppers always want to be kept up to date about the current status of their orders. They especially want to know when the order has left the warehouse and when it is in the delivery vehicle and ready for delivery.

But should communication only begin during the shipping process? Why not also inform the customer when the ordered items are being prepared and made ready for shipping? Consumers want to be informed proactively about their consignment’s status, not only when the package is handed over to the shipping service provider.

Via which channels do consumers prefer to be informed about the current shipping status?

Traditional e-mail is arguably the most popular channel here. Communication via the shipping service provider’s app or WhatsApp are other options. The disadvantage here however is that the customer must have these apps installed. E-mail, on the other hand, is a precondition for orders in online shops.

Whether this will continue to be the case in the future is questionable. The increasing number of phishing e-mails in delivery logistics are not only a nuisance but may well be the reason consumers want a more credible and reliable channel.

If shipping communication is done by the online shop itself and not outsourced to a logistics service provider, this allows for interaction with the customers, with the opportunity, for instance, of highlighting new products and services. However, this should not be overplayed, and should remain first and foremost information about the service being provided.

A seamless returns process

Returns are very annoying and consumers also get frustrated when returns involve a lot of effort. That’s why they prefer online shops that have a customer-friendly returns process.

Opinions differ when it comes to the returns label. Some retailers include it with the delivery, as well as the shipping label. Others require you to first fill in a form on the shop’s website (if you manage to find it) and then print out the label. But what if the customer doesn’t have a printer at hand? More and more Internet users are doing without these devices.

In most cases, customers use a post office or a parcel terminal to post their returns. Collection of parcels by the logistics service provider, e.g. from the customer’s home, is becoming increasingly popular.

But what about communication for the return process? Shouldn’t the same process be used here as with the delivery? For instance, confirmation of receipt in the online shop and information about when the refund has been processed or the replacement delivery made.

Allowing for returns in the online shop’s retail stores would actually be a practical solution, if the two channels could work in unison. Unfortunately, this is often still not the case in 2022.

Communication with customers during the shipping processes is an area where improvements in the user experience can often still be made.

When was the last time you placed an order in your online shop and returned the goods?


Markus Peter, Post CH Ltd

Lecturer in online retail and online retail logistics at various universities of applied sciences.

Portrait Markus Peter

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